It’s Summer and that means we all like nothing more than going out to beautiful places near us to spend time near water. For you, this might mean walking near the sea, or by a local lake or river. For others, you might prefer getting more active and swimming or boating. Whatever you’re doing, I want you to stay safe doing it!
When I’m out on the water, I know how to stay safe, I’m a duck after all… But sadly, nearly 200 people accidentally drown each year in the UK, and I think that’s just far too many.
So, here are my top ten tips on how you can stay safe this summer in and around water.
Tip 1 – Learn to Swim!
I can promise you that it’s huge fun anyway and will help you if you do fall into water. Every swimming pool will have lessons for all abilities, so head on down and see what they can do for you.
Tip 2 – Know Your Ability
This tip is just as important as the first one. It’s great if you can swim, but make sure you know what you can and can’t do in the water. Lots of people get into trouble by trying to swim out further than they can safely handle – this is especially the case in the sea.
Tip 3 – Swim Near Lifeguards
Most popular beaches have them now, so find one with a Lifeguard and swim between the red and yellow flags. If you can’t find a Lifeguard beach, at least swim where someone is there to watch over you and can raise the alarm if you get into trouble.
Tip 4 – Helping People in Trouble
If you see someone in trouble in the water, don’t go in after them unless you’re trained to do it. Sadly, many people have died trying to rescue other people, or their pets. Instead, throw them something floating that they can hold onto. Most public areas have life rings which are designed exactly for this. Wait until they have a good hold of it and then pull them slowly into shallow water with the rope. If you’re on the beach, ring 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard. Of course, if you do see a missing or damaged life ring, make sure you tell someone who can get it replaced.
Tip 5 – Water is Much Colder Than You Think!
Even in Summer, the water never gets very warm. This coldness saps your energy and means you can’t swim as far as you might be able to do in your local pool. Take this into account when you’re swimming, as well as Tip 6 below. When you’re done here, have a look at this awesome interactive campaign from RNLI – Float to Live!
Tip 6 – Wind, Tides and Water Currents
River currents, tides and wind can all mean it’s harder to swim that you think it might be, so take this into account and don’t go too far. It’s important to be aware of tides too when you’re walking on the beach – read up on your tide times and don’t get cut off – you may never get spotted if you get stuck around the corner of a cliff.
Tip 7 – Walking Near Water
Falling into the water is bad news, especially if you’re fully clothed – it’s hard to swim like that and you might have hurt yourself during the fall too. So keep on the proper paths and stay away from cliff or river edges. If the ground is muddy, loose or slippery, be extra careful. Walking near water at night is even more dangerous – always take a good torch with you.
Tip 8 – Wear a Life Jacket
When you’re out on a boat, wear a lifejacket – no ifs, no buts, no coconuts! This simple step gives you the best chance of surviving. Even if you’re a good swimmer, wear one anyway – you might hit your head on the way in or struggle in some other way that you didn’t expect.
Tip 9 – Whistles
When you wear a lifejacket, tie a loud plastic whistle to it. Tie it on a lanyard up somewhere near your mouth. You can signal for help and get rescued much more easily. If you borrow someone else lifejacket, or hire one, make sure it has a whistle too.
Tip 10 – Tell Them Your Plans
If you’re going out on the water alone, tell someone where you’re going, where you’re launching from and what time you’re due back. If you get into trouble, they’ll know you’re late and raise the alarm.
Be safe on or near the water and enjoy your summer!